Lamb of God

INTRODUCTION: This is a brief study about the acceptable offering of the Lamb of God, that I assembled during the Passover and Easter season to help me reflect upon the prophetic implications of the sacrificial lamb in scripture, and the fulfillment by Christ. The Lamb of God has taken away the sins of those who place their faith and trust completely in his sacrifice, after which he sat down at the right hand of God.

NOTE: Scripture passages are from the World English Bible.


A - THE LORD ACCEPTS ONLY THE RIGHT SACRIFICE OFFERED BY FAITH

Genesis 4 "3 As time passed, it happened that Cain brought an offering to Yahweh from the fruit of the ground. 4 Abel also brought some of the firstborn of his flock and of its fat. Yahweh respected Abel and his offering, 5 but he didn't respect Cain and his offering. Cain was very angry, and the expression on his face fell. 6 Yahweh said to Cain, "Why are you angry? Why has the expression of your face fallen? 7 If you do well, will it not be lifted up? If you don't do well, sin crouches at the door. Its desire is for you, but you are to rule over it.""

COMMENTS: Scripture does not reveal any instructions given to Cain and Abel about a prescribed sacrifice to the LORD. But when Cain's offering was unacceptable, the LORD gave him opportunity to do the right thing, and warned him that if he did not follow through, he would be allowing sin to have mastery over him. A passage from Hebrews shows that Abel acted out of faith, and this resulted in righteousness for him before God, which was of more value than his physical life. Hebrews 11 "4 By faith, Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he had testimony given to him that he was righteous, God testifying with respect to his gifts; and through it he, being dead, still speaks."


B - A PICTURE OF GOD'S SUBSTITUTIONARY SACRIFICE

Genesis 22 "1 It happened after these things, that God tested Abraham, and said to him, "Abraham!" He said, "Here I am." 2 He said, "Now take your son, your only son, whom you love, even Isaac, and go into the land of Moriah. Offer him there for a burnt offering on one of the mountains which I will tell you of." 3 Abraham rose early in the morning, and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son. He split the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went to the place of which God had told him. 4 On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place far off. 5 Abraham said to his young men, "Stay here with the donkey. The boy and I will go yonder. We will worship, and come back to you." 6 Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. He took in his hand the fire and the knife. They both went together. 7 Isaac spoke to Abraham his father, and said, "My father?" He said, "Here I am, my son." He said, "Here is the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?" 8 Abraham said, "God will provide himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son." So they both went together. 9 They came to the place which God had told him of. Abraham built the altar there, and laid the wood in order, bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar, on the wood. 10 Abraham stretched out his hand, and took the knife to kill his son. 11 The angel of Yahweh called to him out of the sky, and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" He said, "Here I am." 12 He said, "Don't lay your hand on the boy, neither do anything to him. For now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me." 13 Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and saw that behind him was a ram caught in the thicket by his horns. Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 Abraham called the name of that place Yahweh Will Provide. As it is said to this day, "On Yahweh's mountain, it will be provided.""

COMMENTS: Abraham and Isaac were descendents of Adam, and therefore both of them had the sin nature requiring atonement. But Abraham showed a firm faith as he believed that the LORD would give him many descendents through his only son Isaac as he had promised. Though there was no record of any resurrection at this point in history, Abraham was determined to obey his instructions from the LORD for the sacrifice of the son of promise. The outcome of his faith resulted in a beautiful picture of how God would later provide his only Son as the lamb for all those who will place unwavering faith in the sacrificial death, burial, and resurrection of Christ Jesus. We have this comment from the New Testament, Hebrews 11 "17 By faith, Abraham, being tested, offered up Isaac. Yes, he who had gladly received the promises was offering up his one and only son; 18 even he to whom it was said, "In Isaac will your seed be called"; 19 concluding that God is able to raise up even from the dead. Figuratively speaking, he also did receive him back from the dead."


C - THE LORD'S JUDGMENT PASSES OVER THOSE WHO ARE UNDER THE BLOOD

Exodus 12 "1 Yahweh spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, 2 "This month shall be to you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year to you. 3 Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying, 'On the tenth day of this month, they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to their fathers' houses, a lamb for a household; 4 and if the household is too little for a lamb, then he and his neighbour next to his house shall take one according to the number of the souls; according to what everyone can eat you shall make your count for the lamb. 5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You shall take it from the sheep, or from the goats: 6 and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month; and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at evening. 7 They shall take some of the blood, and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel, on the houses in which they shall eat it. 8 They shall eat the flesh in that night, roasted with fire, and unleavened bread. They shall eat it with bitter herbs. 9 Don't eat it raw, nor boiled at all with water, but roasted with fire; with its head, its legs and its inner parts. 10 You shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; but that which remains of it until the morning you shall burn with fire. 11 This is how you shall eat it: with your belt on your waist, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste: it is Yahweh's Passover. 12 For I will go through the land of Egypt in that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and animal. Against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am Yahweh. 13 The blood shall be to you for a token on the houses where you are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and there shall no plague be on you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt."

COMMENTS: After the LORD had provided many signs to the children of Israel and to the Egyptians, this final one before they left Egypt was to become an annual memorial observance for Israel. It is also a picture of how the blood of the sacrifice applied by faith, allows a holy God to pass over us without his judgment. Moses acted in faith as he instructed all of Israel. Hebrews 11 "28 By faith, he kept the Passover, and the sprinkling of the blood, that the destroyer of the firstborn should not touch them." Because all people are sinners, we must have faith in the blood of Christ to redeem us. Romans 3 "21 But now apart from the law, a righteousness of God has been revealed, being testified by the law and the prophets; 22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ to all and on all those who believe. For there is no distinction, 23 for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God; 24 being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; 25 whom God set forth to be an atoning sacrifice, through faith in his blood, for a demonstration of his righteousness through the passing over of prior sins, in God's forbearance; 26 to demonstrate his righteousness at this present time; that he might himself be just, and the justifier of him who has faith in Jesus."


D - PREACHING ABOUT THE LAMB OF GOD

John 1 "29 The next day, he saw Jesus coming to him, and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, 'After me comes a man who is preferred before me, for he was before me.' 31 I didn't know him, but for this reason I came baptizing in water: that he would be revealed to Israel." 32 John testified, saying, "I have seen the Spirit descending like a dove out of heaven, and it remained on him. 33 I didn't recognize him, but he who sent me to baptize in water, he said to me, 'On whomever you will see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.' 34 I have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God." 35 Again, the next day, John was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and he looked at Jesus as he walked, and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God!""

Acts 8 "30 Philip ran to him, and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, "Do you understand what you are reading?" 31 He said, "How can I, unless someone explains it to me?" He begged Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 Now the passage of the Scripture which he was reading was this, "He was led as a sheep to the slaughter. As a lamb before his shearer is silent, so he doesn't open his mouth. 33 In his humiliation, his judgment was taken away. Who will declare his generation? For his life is taken from the earth." 34 The eunuch answered Philip, "Who is the prophet talking about? About himself, or about someone else?" 35 Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture, preached to him Jesus."

COMMENTS: The passage in John and the one in Acts were drawn to my attention since they contain the word lamb translated from the Greek word "amnos" that appears only four times in the New Testament. In the book of Revelation, the word lamb is translated from "arnion." John the Baptist was the first to designate Jesus as the Lamb of God by direct revelation from God. After the resurrection, Philip explained to the Ethiopian eunuch that the lamb referred to in the Isaiah passage was a prophecy of the Lord Jesus. The fourth use of "amnos" is in Peter's first letter. 1 Peter 1 "18 knowing that you were redeemed, not with corruptible things, with silver or gold, from the useless way of life handed down from your fathers, 19 but with precious blood, as of a faultless and pure lamb, the blood of Christ; 20 who was foreknown indeed before the foundation of the world, but was revealed at the end of times for your sake, 21 who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead, and gave him glory; so that your faith and hope might be in God."


E - ONLY ONE SACRIFICE FOR SIN

Hebrews 9 "12 nor yet through the blood of goats and calves, but through his own blood, entered in once for all into the Holy Place, having obtained eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled, sanctify to the cleanness of the flesh: 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? 15 For this reason he is the mediator of a new covenant, since a death has occurred for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first covenant, that those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance."

Hebrews 10 "1 For the law, having a shadow of the good to come, not the very image of the things, can never with the same sacrifices year by year, which they offer continually, make perfect those who draw near. 2 Or else wouldn't they have ceased to be offered, because the worshippers, having been once cleansed, would have had no more consciousness of sins? 3 But in those sacrifices there is a yearly reminder of sins. 4 For it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins. 5 Therefore when he comes into the world, he says, "Sacrifice and offering you didn't desire, but you prepared a body for me; 6 You had no pleasure in whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin. 7 Then I said, 'Behold, I have come (in the scroll of the book it is written of me) to do your will, O God.'" 8 Previously saying, "Sacrifices and offerings and whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin you didn't desire, neither had pleasure in them" (those which are offered according to the law), 9 then he has said, "Behold, I have come to do your will." He takes away the first, that he may establish the second, 10 by which will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11 Every priest indeed stands day by day serving and often offering the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins, 12 but he, when he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God; 13 from that time waiting until his enemies are made the footstool of his feet. 14 For by one offering he has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. 15 The Holy Spirit also testifies to us, for after saying, 16 "This is the covenant that I will make with them: 'After those days,' says the Lord, 'I will put my laws on their heart, I will also write them on their mind;'" then he says, 17 "I will remember their sins and their iniquities no more." 18 Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. 19 Having therefore, brothers, boldness to enter into the holy place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the way which he dedicated for us, a new and living way, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; 21 and having a great priest over the house of God, 22 let's draw near with a true heart in fulness of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and having our body washed with pure water, 23 let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering; for he who promised is faithful."

COMMENTS: Hebrews chapter 9 explains that the blood of Christ obtained eternal redemption as he afterward entered into the holy place in heaven. Jesus offered himself to God without any blemish of sin and became the mediator of a new covenant. His death occurred for the redemption of the sins that were under the first covenant, that those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. Hebrews chapter 10 explains the superiority of the new covenant, as the first covenant held an annual reminder of sin as a shadow of that which was to come. God establish the second covenant for sanctification through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. When he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, Jesus sat down on the right hand of God, from that time waiting until his enemies are made the footstool of his feet. For by one offering he has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. The Holy Spirit testified through the passage in Jeremiah 31:33-34 as referenced in Hebrews, "This is the covenant that I will make with them: 'After those days,' says the Lord, 'I will put my laws on their heart, I will also write them on their mind;'" then he says, 17 "I will remember their sins and their iniquities no more." The conclusion is "where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin." Our Lord Jesus has paid it all! Christians need to act upon this great privilege to enter into the heavenly holy place to draw near to our precious Savior with a true heart in fullness of faith, for he who promised is faithful.


F - WORTHY IS THE LAMB THAT WAS SLAIN

Revelation 5 "8 Now when he had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 They sang a new song, saying, "You are worthy to take the book, and to open its seals: for you were killed, and bought us for God with your blood, out of every tribe, language, people, and nation, 10 and made us kings and priests to our God, and we will reign on earth." 11 I saw, and I heard something like a voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousands of ten thousands, and thousands of thousands; 12 saying with a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb who has been killed to receive the power, wealth, wisdom, strength, honour, glory, and blessing!" 13 I heard every created thing which is in heaven, on the earth, under the earth, on the sea, and everything in them, saying, "To him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb be the blessing, the honour, the glory, and the dominion, forever and ever! Amen!""

COMMENTS: In John's vision, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders who have their place in heaven fell down in complete subjection before the Lamb of God. The golden bowls full of incense represent the prayers of the saints, and this should encourage us to continue in prayer. The new song they sang declared that the Lamb of God is worthy to open the seal of the book as is no other, because he purchased the saints out of every tribe, tongue, and nation with his own blood. John heard the sound of millions of voices saying, "Worthy is the lamb who has been slain, to receive the power, wealth, wisdom, strength, honor, glory, and blessing!" Next the praise spread as John heard every created thing which is in heaven, on the earth, under the earth, on the sea, and everything in them, saying, "To him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb be the blessing, the honor, the glory, and the dominion, forever and ever! Amen!" What a thrilling vision for those who can anticipate participation in this glorious praise because of faith in the shed blood of Christ and of his resurrection!


--- REFLECTIONS IN PRAYER ---

Lord, I thank you for providing a means of relationship with you by faith, from the beginning of the history of mankind. May I always remember that Abel offered a more excellent sacrifice because his faith had greater significance than his physical life. And Abraham showed a level of faith and trust that perhaps goes beyond the concern a person might have for their own life, when it brought the life of his promised son to the edge of death. But Abraham's faith was rewarded as you provided the ram, and that pictured the future substitutionary sacrifice until it reached fulfillment in Christ. Then, as you called your chosen nation out of bondage in Egypt, you established a prophetic ceremony that required absolute faith in practice in that first observance for the promised protection before the exodus from Egypt. That observance required the death of a sacrificed lamb to provide the blood for Passover protection among those who obeyed.

How wonderful to know that John the Baptist recognized Jesus as the Son of God, and the Lamb of God, through the sign you provided to him. And Philip was led by the Holy Spirit to explain to the Ethiopian eunuch that Jesus fulfilled the prophecy from Isaiah. Thank you Lord for those records, and for the explanation from Peter that the Lamb of God, who was foreknown before the foundation of the world, by his resurrection gives each Christian faith and hope that is fully in God. The author of Hebrews shows that the annual observance of the Day of Atonement performed by the high priest under the first covenant, has now been replaced by the atonement by Christ once for all, to establish the New Covenant for those who have been called to receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. Remind me often Lord, that I have the privilege to draw near to you with a true heart in fullness of faith, and to hold tightly to my confession of hope in Christ knowing that you are a faithful God. I believe the vision of the Apostle John and it gives me great joy to know that I even now have the opportunity to offer praise to the Lamb who is worthy of all blessing, honor, glory, and dominion, forever and ever! Amen!

Published 28 March 2013